This Hot Apple Toddy is a twist on the traditional hot toddy and will warm you up during the cold fall and winter months. Made with honey, apple cider, bourbon, black tea, and spices, it tastes just as good as it looks. And, it only takes 5 minutes to make and can be made for one or as a batch for a crowd!
‘Tis the season for hot drinks. Right now, it’s all about hot tea, coffee, and cocoa. An apple cider hot toddy are perfect for when you need a bourbon cocktail that is extra cozy instead of ice-cold cocktails like my Bourbon Mule or Smoked Rosemary Old Fashioned.
And, many find them soothing for those nasty cold symptoms that tend to show up this time of year. If you’re looking for another batch cocktail option, you can also try my Cranberry Mistletoe Vodka Martinis or White Christmas Margaritas – both of these recipes include instructions for serving a crowd.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Cozy flavor and scent– It’s oh-so-cozy! This cozy cocktail is the perfect way to warm up on a cold day. It’s like a warm hug in a mug.
- Quick – It only takes 5 minutes to create this soothing and comforting cocktail.
- Easily batched for gatherings – You can make this recipe for one or as a batch for a crowd.
What is a Hot Toddy?
Hot toddies are a classic hot cocktail and make great nightcap cocktails on cold evenings or when someone is feeling under the weather. They’re typically made from whiskey, hot water, and honey as a basic recipe, but I’ve seen variations using apple cider and/or tea (like this recipe) as well. Adding black tea and apple cider to this hot toddy recipe really increases the flavor profile and makes it an even better cocktail.
Hot toddies have been around for centuries. The word “toddy” is derived from the Hindi word “taddy,” which is a beverage made from distilled palm sap. By the 1700s, the British appropriated this beverage into its current form from Indian culture and claimed it as their own.
With exotic spices much more available due to the British colonization of India, pubs in the United Kingdom began adding hot water and spices to their whisky to combat the cold, damp weather in northern England and Scotland.
There are also claims that the hot toddy was created by Robert Bentley Todd, an Irish physician, that ordered patients to drink his “hot toddy” recipe involving hot brandy, cinnamon, sugar, and water. And, some believe that there is truth in both origin stories, but no one knows the exact story of the evolution of hot toddies.
Hot toddies are a controversial remedy for cold and flu symptoms. There’s no clinical evidence that hot toddies will cure or shorten the common cold or other ailments, but many find them quite soothing when feeling under the weather, including myself.
There are risks to combining alcohol with medications and alcohol can cause dehydration, so always check with your physician before partaking in this or any home remedy.
- Black tea – I like to make my hot toddies with black tea. I think the best tea for a hot tea toddy is Harney and Sons’ Black Cask Bourbon Tea, which goes well in this hot toddy since it’s a bourbon whiskey drink. The tea itself is not alcoholic but the flavors are reminiscent of bourbon whiskey. But, feel free to use your favorite black tea bag or loose-leaf tea, whatever that might be.
- Honey and apple cider add the perfect amount of sweetness to the hot toddy and provide a lot of extra flavor. You can also sub in maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have apple cider, you can opt for apple juice in its place.
- Whiskey – Make sure to use a good whiskey – I prefer bourbon. I like to support local whenever I can – my favorite local Charleston bourbons hail from Cannon and High Wire Distilleries. Apple brandy or cognac would also be great – it’s all a matter of personal preference.
- Whole spices – I prefer to use whole spices instead of ground cinnamon or anise. Ground spices are too overpowering and do not mix well for a warm cocktail. I like to use cinnamon sticks and whole star anise pods. You can also add one or two whole cloves. Plus, they look very aesthetic floating a glass mug.
Step 1: Add a tea bag to a pot with hot water and brew tea to package directions. Pour the tea into your favorite mug.
Step 2: Sweeten the to taste with honey. Add bourbon to the mug.
Step 3: Add a cinnamon stick and/or star anise pods to the mug. Top off with hot apple cider that has been warmed in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Expert Tips and Serving Ideas
- This hot apple toddy is the perfect recipe for holiday gatherings. They’re great as a Thanksgiving nightcap, holiday party cocktail, served at Halloween parties or fall bonfires, or on a cold and blustery winter evening.
- Try a squeeze of citrus juice. A lemon slice or a dash of lemon juice can brighten the drink, balancing the sweet and spicy notes.
- Gently heat the cider to preserve its fresh taste; avoid boiling the apple cider as it might cause it to lose its delicate flavor notes.
Does a hot toddy always contain tea?
No, hot toddies often use just hot water. I find that making hot toddies with tea gives much more flavor and depth to the drink.
What alcohol goes well with hot toddy? Can you mix whiskey and tea?
Whiskey goes very well with hot tea. This is especially so if you use something like Harney and Sons’ Black Cask Bourbon Tea. You can definitely have your choice of liquor when making a hot apple toddy with tea. You can try spiced dark rum, brandy, or an aged tequila like añejo instead of whiskey.
Are whiskey or hot toddies good for a cold? Or cough? Or sore throat?
There’s no clinical evidence that hot toddies will cure or shorten the common cold or other ailments. There is potential harm in mixing alcohol with certain medications, including those used for cold and flu symptoms. And, alcohol can be dehydrating. So, always check with your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice before drinking alcohol while on medication.
However, anecdotally, hot toddies often soothe my cold-like symptoms (which could be a placebo), but so do most warm beverages when one feels under the weather. I do like to make them when I start to feel a tickle in my throat.
How do I make a big batch of Hot Apple Toddies?
It’s quite simple to make a big batch of hot apple toddies. I’ve included instructions in the notes section of the recipe card for serving big batches.
Can I make a batch in advance?
Absolutely. You can make this a few hours in advance and store it in a hot water urn or slow cooker set to low. You make a day in advance by storing it in a large pitcher (minus the whole spices) in the fridge and warm it with the whole spices in the slow cooker or small saucepan on a stovetop – it can then be kept in the slow cooker or transferred to the hot water urn.
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Apple Cider Hot Toddy Recipe
- ½ cup brewed black tea
- 2 teaspoons honey or to taste
- 1 ½ ounce bourbon
- 1 -2 each cinnamon stick and/or star anise pods
- ½ cup apple cider warmed
- Brew black tea to package's directions. Sweeten with honey to taste.
- Pour black tea into a mug. Add bourbon and whole spices.
- Top with warm apple cider.
- 4 cups brewed black hot tea
- Honey to taste
- 1 ½ cups bourbon
- 8-12 cinnamon sticks and/or star anise pods (plus extra for garnish)
- 4 cups warm apple cider